Search Engine Optimisation

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a method of increasing the number of visitors to your website by improving your visibility in search engines, often referred to as ranking.

Does SEO work?

Yes. However, the world of SEO is awash with offers of ‘quick fixes’ and promises of ‘unlimited free traffic’ to your website. You’re sure to have received hundreds of offers by email from companies offering number 1 on Google, all for a low monthly fee!

The methods employed are often short sighted, manipulating the latest tactics to produce quick results, but these results are short lived and can have a long lasting damaging impact on your website.

How to avoid poor SEO

Before we share our top tips for avoiding dubious SEO offers, let’s start with a few straightforward facts.

  • Search engines are clever – very clever. Their job is to sort through millions of possibilities and give a searcher a short list of pages most likely to meet their needs, all from a few words typed into a box, in a matter of seconds. Most of us use search engines so frequently we’re immune to the sheer brilliance of what they do. With all this raw power and brilliance can we realistically fudge the system to push our site to the top? Probably not. Not for long anyway.
  • If it’s easy everyone would be doing it really well.
  • We can’t all be number 1.

What to avoid

In our opinion, any proposal including these statements (or statements like them) should be avoided. Why? Because these are promises we don’t believe anyone can truly keep – unless the promise is made by the search engine themselves the person making the promise isn’t in control of the outcome.

  • Guaranteed number 1 on Google
  • Guaranteed 10,000 visitors in 4 weeks

Search engine optimisation is a long term tactic. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes.

The commercial nature of search

For the search engines the stakes are high, after all it’s a multi billion dollar industry. In a McKinsey study The impact of Internet technologies: Search, [McKinsey] estimated that the total gross value of Internet search across the global economy was $780 billion in 2009, equivalent to the GDP of the Netherlands or Turkey*.

So what do the search engines need? Market share, plain and simple.

*Source: High Tech Practice, July 2011, Copyright © McKinsey & Company

What do customers demand from search engines?

To gain market share, search engines need to deliver what their customers want. Searchers want answers. They want them to be accurate and they want them fast. Here’s a quick reminder of what we expect from a search engine:

To sort through millions of possibilities and produce a short list of pages most likely to meet a searcher’s need, all from a few words typed into a box, in a matter of seconds

How SEO has evolved

For search engines to succeed and meet customer expectations they work hard to cleanse their search results of poor quality, low grade content. Exactly the type of content generated to ‘play’ the system and get high rankings quickly. Algorithm updates are headline news, when search engines update their system to weed out poor quality content there will be losers and you don’t want to be one of them.

It’s not all about keywords

In everyday language we don’t repeat the same word again and again or add unnecessary repetitive sentences. Take this example:

A bright red ball is a wonderful type of red ball to own. If you buy a red ball make sure it’s a bright red ball, bright is best if you want to own a red ball.

In the past keywords were king for SEO, search engines would count the number of times a given word was used in relation to the total amount of text and use this as a strong indicator of what the page was about.  SEO experts (ourselves included) spent many hours pondering the optimal number of times to use a keyword on a page and constructed copy to suit.

That was then.  Now search engines have advanced to understand language far better, to spot ‘overcooked’ copy and unnatural patterns in text. Let’s be honest, if a search engine can work out if you want to go fishing or cook a sumptuous dinner just from the word ‘trout’ they know a thing or two about language.

The key to successful SEO

Don’t fake it. If search engines need to deliver high quality results and you want to be at the top, you need to be a high quality result. Here’s a simple checklist for your website:

  • Relevant
  • Informative
  • Current
  • Accessible

The technical necessities

No matter how great your content is, if a search engine can’t access it then you will not appear in the search results. We build search engine friendly sites and help customers with existing sites improve their accessibility. Anything you can do to make your website more open to search engines and make their job easier the better.

How we can help you get it right

We can help in a number of ways, quickly summarised as:

  • Planning – this is often overlooked but essential for long term success
  • Improving your site the design – making it accessible to search engines and users alike
  • Titles, keywords and descriptions and other on page factors – not all of these elements are visible to your visitors, but search engines use them to evaluate your site.
  • Your content – fresh relevant content that is worthy of top positions in results.

Want to know more?

If you are looking for straightforward, honest advice talk to us today. SEO is not an optimal strategy for every company, so talk to us about what you are looking to achieve and we’ll gladly share our knowledge and experience with you.

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